My Mom Doesn’t Know Who Her Biological Father Is
Most people grow up with family members they know. Your immediate family is your source of love, support, and strength. You take comfort and find strength in the idea that people are who they say they are. When people say they are of a certain kinship, we tend to believe them.
“Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs. The ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile, and love you no matter what.” — Anonymous
Unless you’re adopted, it’s unlikely you’ve ever questioned who your parents or grandparents are. And with websites like Ancestry, FamilySearch, My Heritage, and AncestryDNA, you can re-create your family tree with relative ease. You can even find family members you didn’t know you had.
When old bones rattle they not only talk, but tell stories of family members you may not have met, perhaps some you didn’t even know you had. When the roots of your family tree grow in different ways, you may be faced with decisions of new revelations and what they mean to for those you love.
I’m sure the person everyone says is my grandfather isn’t my grandfather. There’s a family friend who’s always been close. He’s traveled across the country on many occasions to be with my extended family. He’s celebrated births, weddings, and many meaningful events throughout my aunts’ and uncles’ lives. He’s been incredibly close to my mom.
Throughout the years, he’s taken care of her in extraordinary ways. He’s purchased for her a new washer and dryer, a grill, and a new recumbent bicycle for her when her health turned terrible. My aunts and uncles have often scratched their heads in wonder at why he takes care of her the way he does. It just doesn’t make sense. It is perplexing until you look at the past through different eyes.
Look Back at What Was to Determine What Is
Life events can change with new awareness. My Grandma, God rest her soul, was quite the dish in her day. That is to say, she was a beautiful woman.
I remember her tending to her flowers outside, wearing nothing but a tube top and shorty shorts. She wasn’t dressed much differently than we see many people dressed today, but at the time, her clothing choices would have been risqué. As sweat dripped off of her body from working in the summer heat, on occasion, he was there.
And I suppose he was also there in late nights when my Grandpa was working. Grandpa was kind to him when he was starting out in life. He was often at their home.
When one of my Uncles got married, I had a special occasion to talk with him. He’d always come close with a curious look. It was a special day for my Uncle, so my daughter and I made the trip back to the Midwest for the occasion. He came all the way from Florida. We enjoyed each other’s conversation, and he delighted in my daughter. She, of course, is his great-granddaughter.
We spoke of mom’s bad health, and he wanted me to tell him how she was, really. For some reason, I looked into his warm eyes and told him everything he wanted to know. I told him about her disappearing blood and how none of her brothers and sisters have the same blood type. And about the weird blood condition she has that no one else, including Grandma, has.
His eyes flashed with a mix of anger and recognition when I mentioned Factor V Leiden. “I have that,” he whispered in my ear. He asked what blood type mom is. “Mom has O blood,” I said. We talked about the positive attributes of having universal blood. And he wanted to be double sure that no one else in the family had O blood. No one. Not Grandma, Grandpa, or any of mom’s brothers or sisters. It’s been a while since sixth-grade science class, but I haven’t met a Punnett Square that allows A and B blood to cross with a result that yields O blood.
He shook his head as he said, “We should have aborted it as we talked about.”
“I wouldn’t be here if you had. Are you my Grandpa?” He held my hands, and we talked for a good while about our family, who I married, and how he could keep in touch. Sometimes you feel a bond with people that you can’t explain away. There was something warm and loving about him, and I wanted more of that feeling.
Feel a Connection that Won’t Quit
We have kept in touch periodically for over a decade. A couple of years ago, we even found ourselves residing in the same hometown and renewed our email chats. Life got busy for me, and his wife was ill. I kept my distance, not wanting to hurt his family, and we still had our emails.
I felt him die.
I can’t explain how these connections work, but I knew he died. My heart hurt, and somehow he was on my mind. I even said his name out loud as tears welled up in my eyes. I pulled my phone from my pocket to search the calendar for any special dates. Was it his birthday? No. It was a couple of days before my Dad’s birthday, which is probably why I remember the date so clearly. Nothing makes sense about these feelings. Why today? Why now? What was so special about the early afternoon of March 10th?
It wasn’t until later that I learned he died that day. His son answered my email a few months later with the news that his father had passed. I was blessed by his son’s account of the peaceful moments that both of his sons held his hands as he slipped from this earth. And as he breathed his last breath, I felt in my being that my Grandpa died.
The past and the future can take strange turns. As my mom is in the hospital again, I wonder if I should submit DNA to one of those sites to prove what I know is true. Should I introduce her to her dad before she dies, or let her live her last moments in the lies that have been created for her?
And for you, I have this question: Do you know who your family members are? And if the roots of your family tree grew to include new people, would you want to know?